Brief Thoughts on Language & Languages
Todman (Theo)
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Write-up2 (as at 27/11/2020 00:36:00): Brief Thoughts on Language & Languages

Introduction

Priority 1

Language →Total LanguagesTotal AnimadversionsArabic3Armenian4Chinese5Hebrew6Hindi7Japanese8Swahili9Thai10Turkish11Urdu12
Counts →10141211212112

Priority 2

Language →Total LanguagesTotal AnimadversionsDanish13Dutch14German15Greek16Italian17Persian18Russian19Swedish20
Counts →8811111111

LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
General1527/10/2020For ease of reference, I note the following pages giving a fuller view of my linguistic activities:- Next languages in the queue are:-
  • Priority 1: Armenian. Last studied on 04 November 2020
  • Priority 2: Persian. Last studied on 08 November 2020
↑↑↑1228/10/2020Ling Language Learning
  • I decided to invest in a premium membership of Ling in order to study Armenian25. Subsequently, I decided to set up this Note so that any thoughts I have on the subject of language don't get lost (not that anyone other than myself would care).
  • Ling seems to have a standard format for each language. The speakers sound like natives, and not computer-generated, but I wonder whether some of the putting together of the lesson has been done by an AI.
  • For all languages I’ve looked at there are 50 Units in all, broken down into four sections of 10: Beginner, Intermediate, Upper Intermediate, Advanced and Expert. Each Unit has 4 lessons and a set of tests to do at the end: Speaking, Writing and an Exam. In general, I’ve not bothered with the speaking or writing as they don’t fit well while walking the dog!
  • In principle there are three elements to a Unit – Vocabulary, dialogue and grammar; but, most languages I’ve seen don’t have a grammar section which is a shame – particularly for inflected languages (ie. most non-Oriental) which can seem mystifying without a general understanding of how such languages work.
  • Each lesson follows the same general path: Vocabulary is introduced using flash cards and sample sentences (which introduce all sorts of vocabulary and constructions not explained, so the learning is somewhat immersive), there are multiple-choice questions, and spelling tests using the – sometimes idiosyncratic – transliteration scheme. Each lesson ends with a dialogue and a test thereof in which you have to fill in the gaps from a jumble of words. Where the expression is a single word, it can be a bit awkward as you can’t replay the phrase as in other cases!
  • It is worth remarking that you can “game the system” in most test situations in that you can deduce the answer in most multiple-choice situations by ruling out the absurdities and other obviously incorrect alternatives. But continuing to do this leaves you in the end not really knowing what’s going on, so the temptation should be resisted.
  • The (English) vocabulary and narratives seem to be the same for each Language, as are the names of the participants in the dialogue – Mary and Tom. These are rather anomalous in some languages, but the participants are sometimes foreigners in the context of the dialogue. Sometimes – eg. in Chinese26 the sounds of these names don’t fit, so something appropriate is substituted.
  • The flash-cards for the vocabulary seem to be the same across languages, so that the images for people are always white and western, which is a bit odd for – say – Swahili27.
  • For most languages, translation and transliteration continue throughout the course. Though you can optionally suppress translation. For Thai28, the transliteration disappears after the first 10 units (and doesn’t re-appear when reviewing even these).
  • As just noted, you can review the Units, which allows you to remind yourself of the vocabulary and dialogues. You can also review your progress to date overall.
  • To get through a lesson, you need to answer the questions presented, and there’s no going back to look things up within a lesson. Sometimes words appear before you’ve been given them, so you have to guess. Hence, it’s usually best to do the Unit-level “Review” first, which introduces all you need to know without testing you and stopping you progressing.
  • For technical reasons, to get the Book and Paper links and time-stats in the lists below, all languages need at least one reference outside their own Section. Currently this only affects Dutch29, Italian30, Greek31 and Russian32. Herewith supplied!
    
Arabic00Hours by prior academic year: Total: 76.25. 2018: 2. 2012: 0.5. 2011: 2.75. 2010: 10.5. 2009: 5.5. 2008: 15.25. 2007: 39.75
Hours spent this academic year: 4.25
Date last Studied: 17-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (7): Armenian33, Hebrew34, Hindi35, Persian36, Swahili37, Urdu38, Urdu39
↑↑↑809/10/2020Started studying Arabic on Ling.
  • An elegant and perfectly legible Arabic script is used, but it is unpointed – that is, the short vowels aren’t indicated by the usual diacritical marks above or below the letters, though the other diacritics are used and are also legible. I presume this is standard practice in newspapers. Given that the words are spoken, this isn’t too much of a handicap. Having said that, occasionally a word or phrase will be pointed, for no obvious reason.
  • There’s no explanation of the script, or even of its direction, which must all be rather mysterious to those who can’t already read it.
  • The transliteration seems rather eccentric, which is awkward as the “spelling” questions are in this encoding. A particularly egregious example is that for the number 25, which is pronounced something like “hamza we eshroon” but is transliterated as “khmst w eshrwn”.
  • There is no grammar given. I have a bunch of books on Arabic grammar, but will probably just use "Wightwick (Jane) & Gaafar (Mahmoud) - Mastering Arabic".
  • Arabic has had an influence on Hindi40, Urdu41, Turkish42 & Persian43, amongst the languages I’m studying, so is worth learning as background as well as in its own right. The script is also used – in slightly expanded form – by Urdu44 and Persian45.
  • Of course, Hebrew46 is a related language, and it’s interesting to compare the two. The Ling “standard template” approach is useful in this regard.
    
Armenian00Hours by prior academic year: Total: 30.75. 2019: 20.75. 2013: 2.25. 2010: 7.75
Hours spent this academic year: 6.5
Date last Studied: 04-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (3): General47, Hindi48, Urdu49
↑↑↑620/08/2020Started studying Armenian on Ling.
  • The course seems to be of Eastern Armenian, as spoken in Armenia itself, rather than the dialect spoken in the diaspora.
  • An elegant and perfectly legible Armenian script is used. A minor irritation in this regard is that a large proportion of the letters look like Latin script, but with different sounds. But, you get used to it.
  • There’s no explanation of the script, so outside help is probably required, though the script is fairly straightforward and phonetic, so might be deduced. Transliteration is fine.
  • There is no grammar given, which is awkward as Armenian is highly inflected. I only have one book on Armenian - "Andonian (Hagop) - Beginner's Armenian" - which suffers from the huge drawback of insisting you use the script from day one. I agree with this approach, as it saves learning a transliteration schema. But, the traditional italicised Armenian font is horribly scratchy, and the print in the book is tiny and blobby, so that it’s almost impossible to read until you’re very familiar with the language and script so you can correct for the poor print.
  • But Ling is fine for providing some familiarisation.
↑↑↑1127/09/2020Jack pointed out that Armenian has sundry duplicate letters for the same sound, namely for ch, ts, k, p, r, t and v,
… as in the list below, showing Armenian Upper case → Lower case → Roman alphabet
Չ → չ → 'ch' as in 'ch'air
Ջ → ջ → 'ch' as in 'ch'air
Ձ → ձ → 'ts' as in boo'ts'
Ց → ց → 'ts' as in boo'ts'
Գ → գ → K
Ք → ք → K
Փ → փ → P
Բ → բ → P
Ռ → ռ → R
Ր → ր → R
Դ → դ → T
Թ → թ → T
Վ → վ → V
Ւ → ւ → V
There’s a movement in Armenia itself to tidy up the orthography, though not in the diaspora. This is all very well, but it cuts a culture off from its past, and the situation is either very much worse in other languages (including English) or there are unpleasant consequences of reform. For instance:-
  1. Turkish50: Ataturk reformed both the language (getting rid of Ottoman Turkish)51 and the orthography (changing from Perso-Arabic52 script to slightly augmented Latin). This means that anything written in Turkish53 before the 20th century is unintelligible to modern Turks, who may not even know what the old script was.
  2. Thai54: Thai55 is in a much worse state than Armenian. There are three sets of consonants with the same sounds and you need to know the consonant class of each consonant so you can work out the default tone rules.
  3. Portuguese: Various attempts to make the language more phonetic – including the replacement of “ph” by “f”, as in “filosofia” for philosophy.
  4. Chinese56: Mao simplified the character set somewhat – basically making some pictograms less complicated, but the script is still prodigiously complicated and it’d open China up to the rest of the world if Pinyin were adopted by the Chinese57 media and the old script scrapped. But it’d be an act of barbarism.
  5. Japanese58: As for Chinese59 a reform would make the written language more open to the outside world by using the Kana if not Romaji. Japanese60 pictograms are the archaic Chinese61 ones.
    
Chinese00Hours by prior academic year: Total: 169.5. 2019: 0.25. 2014: 2.25. 2011: 1.25. 2010: 5.25. 2009: 88.5. 2008: 67. 2007: 5
Hours spent this academic year: 2.25
Date last Studied: 05-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (4): Armenian62, General63, Japanese64, Thai65
↑↑↑409/10/2020Started studying Mandarin Chinese on Ling.
  • The Course is just advertised as “Chinese”, but it’s clearly Mandarin – if only because there’s a separate course on Cantonese.
  • The transliteration appears to be Pinyin, including the tone marks used therein, which is really helpful, though it is to be noted that Pinyin – despite using the Latin alphabet, has certain consonants (x, q, r) and certain vowels and vowel combinations that aren’t pronounced as one might expect. But you can work things out by listening to the pronunciation.
  • The Chinese pictographs are also given in a clear font, but the exercises are in Pinyin, so I doubt you need to learn them – nor is it likely to be easy. There are no “writing” tests.
  • Just checking out the Cantonese – the transliteration there looks really odd in that the tones are indicated by numbers in line, so it all reads pretty oddly. It’d be nice to compare Mandarin with Cantonese, but they don’t look mutually intelligible when spoken, and I expect life’s far too short.
  • There is no Mandarin grammar given, which isn’t too much of a handicap as there is little grammar in Oriental languages, unlike in inflected languages. I have a host of books on Mandarin, but don’t intend to consult them as part of this exercise in basic familiarisation.
  • I’ve not yet tried any “speaking” tests. I imagine this is difficult, given the tones and the pronunciation of the “r” and some of the sibilants, which I can’t tell apart.
    
Danish00Hours spent this academic year: 3.25
Date last Studied: 19-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (1): Swedish66
↑↑↑2017/11/2020Started studying Danish on Ling
  • I’ve no good reason for studying Danish, other than that it’s the language of a number of Scandi-noir series on TV, and it’d be nice to get an overview of how the language works, though I can’t see myself skipping the sub-titles any time soon. It’ll be interesting to see the similarities with German67, and Swedish68 when I get round to it.
  • Danish – of course – uses a slightly augmented Latin script, though the pronunciation is very far from being as one might expect. As usual, Ling provides no explanation, but I dare say it’s easy enough to pick up the rules.
  • Ling has speaking tests. I’d not thought of availing myself of them, but the pronunciation is so odd that it might be worth a go.
  • There are no grammar sections for Danish on Ling, so I’ll need to rely on the rather antiquated "Koefoed (H.A.) - Teach Yourself Danish" for enlightenment. Help with pronunciation requires a detailed knowledge of the phonetic alphabet and how that sounds, which is a nuisance. As with all languages, you can get some sort of idea from immersion, though I don’t think Ling quite qualifies as that.
    
Dutch00Hours by prior academic year: Total: 2.75. 2009: 0.75. 2008: 2
Hours spent this academic year: 3
Date last Studied: 25-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (1): General69
↑↑↑2324/11/2020Started studying Dutch on Ling
  • I thought I’d just check it out on Ling – a very tenuous reason is that my (Turkish)70 sister-in-law has relatives in Holland. Also, I’d like to see how Dutch compares with German71. I’ve only had a very brief look at Dutch before.
  • Ling has speaking exercises, but I probably won’t do any of them. The spelling of Dutch is crazy (why spell “Frau” as “wrouw”?) but spoken – the previous example apart – it’s rather closer to English than is German72, at least on a first listen.
  • Sadly, there are no grammar sections during the lessons, or for review, on Ling. I have only a couple of books on Dutch, but "Shetter (William) - Introduction to Dutch - A Practical Grammar", while somewhat dated, should be sufficient.
  • I’m reminded of a tale whereby – when a judge asked for a German73 translator – a volunteer was heavily fined for Contempt of Court by asking the accused – “in stage Kraut” – “VOT IS YOUR NAME?” (rather than “Wie heissen Sie?”). Had the defendant been Dutch, the stage Kraut would have done, as “Wat is jouw naam?” sounds pretty much like that.
    
German00Hours by prior academic year: Total: 48.25. 2013: 5. 2011: 3.75. 2009: 2.5. 2008: 16.5. 2007: 20.5
Hours spent this academic year: 5.75
Date last Studied: 21-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (3): Danish74, Dutch75, Swedish76
↑↑↑2120/11/2020Started studying German on Ling
  • I really need a reading knowledge of German as some of the current philosophical work I’m interested in is in German (especially work by Anne Sophie Meincke). Whether Ling is of any use in this regard remains to be seen.
  • Ling has speaking exercises, but I’m familiar enough with German not to need this; however useful it might be for sorting out my accent.
  • There are also useful grammar sections during the lessons, and for review. Additionally, I have a number of introductory books on German, but will probably use "Tenberg (Reinhard) & Ainslie (Susan) - Deutsch Plus".
    
Greek00Hours by prior academic year: Total: 105.25. 2012: 3.25. 2011: 22.5. 2009: 1.75. 2008: 75. 2007: 2.75
Hours spent this academic year: 8.25
Date last Studied: 11-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (1): General77
↑↑↑1810/11/2020Started studying Greek on Ling.
  • The Greek script is given, and there are writing tests – though the script isn’t complex enough for this to be worthwhile, especially with a fingernail on an iPhone. The script is accented, which must be the standard in Greek newspapers, as for other languages on Ling sundry much more useful diacritics are omitted for that reason.
  • The transliteration schema – which is needed for the exercises and progressing the course – are basically phonetic, though a bit muddled. In modern Greek, the ancient Greek delta has softened to “th” (as in English “the”), so to get a hard “d”, the equivalent of “nt” has to be written (which also doubles as “nd”). So, “andras”, for “man” has to be written “antras” if a hard “d” is required – to be pronounced “andras”. But on Ling it is transliterated “antras”. All this notwithstanding, my books on modern Greek spell the word “andras” (in Greek characters)!
  • There are speaking exercises which I’ve not tried yet.
  • There are no grammar sections, which is a shame for so highly inflected a language. I have number of aids, but will probably just use "Matsukas (Aristarhos) - Complete Greek Course" for assistance.
    
Hebrew00Hours by prior academic year: Total: 18. 2011: 1.25. 2010: 8.75. 2009: 1. 2008: 4.75. 2007: 2.25
Hours spent this academic year: 2.75
Date last Studied: 05-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (1): Arabic78
↑↑↑909/10/2020Started studying Modern Hebrew on Ling.
  • An perfectly legible Hebrew script is used, but it is unpointed – that is, the short vowels aren’t indicated by the usual diacritical marks above or below the letters, nor are there any other diacritics, including those distinguishing “sin” from “shin”. I presume this is standard practice in newspapers. Given that the words are spoken, this isn’t too much of a handicap.
  • There’s no explanation of the script, or even of its direction, which must all be somewhat mysterious to those who can’t already read it, though must less so that the (Perso-)Arabic79 scripts. I have to say that the Modern Hebrew script is rather barbarous when compared to the Classical Hebrew square script. The hand-written script is even worse, but not needed for Ling.
  • There is no grammar given, and no introduction to the “triliteral root” idea that is essential for understanding Semitic languages. I have a bunch of books on Hebrew grammar, both Classical and Modern, but will probably just use "Glinert (Lewis) - Modern Hebrew: An Essential Grammar".
  • As noted, it’s interesting comparing Hebrew with Arabic80. Also, comparing Classical with Modern Hebrew. All I’ve noticed so far is the use of “shel” for the genitive, rather than using the “construct”. It looks like the verb is still rather complex.
  • I have my suspicions that there are errors in the Ling text – eg. use of “yeled” (boy) when “yaldah” (girl) is required, despite the two words having been introduced. I understand from the above grammar that Modern Hebrew treats some of the gender distinctions in pronouns as a bit formal, and uses the masculine, though don’t know whether this informality reaches as far as nouns.
    
Hindi00Hours by prior academic year: Total: 46.5. 2019: 3.75. 2012: 6.5. 2010: 1.25. 2009: 7. 2008: 15. 2007: 13
Hours spent this academic year: 4.5
Date last Studied: 07-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (3): Arabic81, Urdu82, Urdu83
↑↑↑321/09/2020Started studying Hindi on Ling.
  • An elegant and perfectly legible Hindi script is used, though no explanation is given.
  • There’s no explanation of the script, so outside help is probably required, though the script is fairly straightforward and phonetic, so might be deduced. Transliteration is a bit odd, in particular adding barbarous n’s to indicate nasal vowels. but you can understand what it’s on about – though this makes some of the exercises more difficult than they need be. I’ve been using "Snell (Rupert) - Beginner's Hindi Script" to assist, which is also useful as a brief introduction to the language.
  • Ling has writing and speaking exercises, which I’ve not tried yet.
  • Hindi prides itself on the purity of its Sanskrit-inspired script, with no redundancy of consonants or vowels (contrast Armenian84 and Thai)85. The Ling course doesn’t point out the different sets of consonants – especially aspirated and retroflex – which are clearly articulated in Hindi and are difficult for Europeans to pronounce.
  • There is no grammar given, which is awkward as Hindi inflected. I have a bunch of Teach Yourself books by Rupert Snell, including the one mentioned above.
↑↑↑226/10/2020
  • From Ling, I deduce that - like English - Hindi imports vocabulary – and entire phrases like “good morning” – from other languages, particularly English. I'd understood that it preferred to use Sanskrit for neologisms, but see that several imports are from English unchanged. The spelling appears in Devanagari script but the pronunciation is English – sort of cut-glass with a slight Indian accent. This explains why – when I was in Pune – the local HSBC employees would suddenly introduce English words when talking amongst themselves in what I took to be Hindi (though the local language is Marathi).
  • Anyway, today’s examples are “bread” and “soup” but also “kitab” (book, from Arabic86 “kitab(un)”).
  • I’d earlier noted that “soup” appears in Thai87. Hindi “bread” looks like it might be for European-style loaves rather than roti. I see from Wikipedia that “kitabu” is also the Swahili88 for book, and from Ling that “kitap” is the Turkish89 (and subsequently that "kitab" is Persian90 for book).
    
Italian00Hours by prior academic year: Total: 124.75. 2019: 0.5. 2017: 13.75. 2013: 14.75. 2011: 1.25. 2009: 49.5. 2008: 31.5. 2007: 13.5
Hours spent this academic year: 2.75
Date last Studied: 24-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (1): General91
↑↑↑2223/11/2020Started studying Italian on Ling
  • I thought I’d just check it out on Ling – useful for holidays, and Inspector Montalbano, but that’s about it.
  • Ling has speaking exercises, but I’m familiar enough with Italian not to need them, however useful they might be for sorting out my accent.
  • Sadly, there are no grammar sections during the lessons, or for review, on Ling. I have a number of introductory books on Italian, but all are based on immersion rather than formal grammar. I will probably use "Freeth (Mariolina) & Checketts (Giuliana) - Contatti 1: A First Course in Italian".
    
Japanese00Hours by prior academic year: Total: 66.25. 2019: 2. 2010: 3.75. 2009: 8.5. 2008: 27.25. 2007: 24.75
Hours spent this academic year: 6.25
Date last Studied: 09-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (1): Armenian92
↑↑↑509/10/2020Started studying Japanese on Ling.
  • The Japanese script is given, and there are writing exercises – I’ve not looked at them beyond the first character, but they may just be Kana as the first character presented is the Hiragana for “a”.
  • Like for Chinese93 on Ling, the script is introduced far too quickly to be assimilated. It is presented
  • The transliteration is sensible, and is used for the exercises, so the script is not necessary for the course.
  • There are speaking exercises, which I’ve not tried. Japanese is not a tonal language, so presumably these exercises won’t be as difficult as those for Chinese94 are likely to be.
  • There is no grammar given, which is not as much of a handicap as in inflecting languages. I have a host of books on Japanese, but will probably just use "Lammers (W.P.) - Japanese the Manga Way: An Illustrated Guide to Grammar and Structure" as it’s more enjoyable than the others. It might be worth getting an overview from Wikipedia: Japanese Grammar first.
    
Persian00Hours by prior academic year: Total: 7.75. 2010: 1.75. 2009: 1.75. 2008: 4.25
Hours spent this academic year: 2.25
Date last Studied: 08-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (4): Arabic95, Hindi96, Urdu97, Urdu98
↑↑↑1304/11/2020Started studying Persian on Ling.
  • An elegant and perfectly legible Perso-Arabic99 script is used. I’ve not yet checked whether the script – with its minor variations from the Arabic100 – is the same as that used for Urdu101. As usual, there’s no explanation of the script.
  • The script isn’t pointed – in that it doesn’t show the three short vowels, which is a shame. It seems that these vowels are only used for beginners, so it would have been nice to have them in. However, I note that the Persian short vowels are a, e and o and that – where used – the signs are those used for the Arabic102 short vowels a, i and u. So, the pointing might be confusing if used!
  • Transliteration is probably a bit odd, as is probably bound to be the case as the Arabic103 script wasn’t really designed for an Indo-European language so won’t be phonetic.
  • Ling has no writing or speaking exercises for Persian.
  • There’s no grammar given or explained, and the only assistance I have is "Farzad (Narguess) - Complete Modern Persian", but this seems a useful volume and I have the CDs somewhere!
    
Russian00Hours by prior academic year: Total: 10.5. 2009: 1.5. 2008: 9
Hours spent this academic year: 2
Date last Studied: 09-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (1): General104
↑↑↑1709/11/2020Started studying Russian on Ling.
  • The Russian script is given, and there are writing tests – though the script isn’t complex enough for this to be worthwhile, especially with a fingernail on an iPhone. I’ve not checked whether these exercises are of printed or hand-written Russian – which differ somewhat.
  • The transliteration schema – which is needed for the exercises and progressing the course – are slightly idiosyncratic, in that the Russian “o” is transliterated as “a” when thus pronounced, while “ye” is always transliterated as “e” even when pronounced as “ye”.
  • There are speaking exercises which I’ve not tried yet.
  • There are no grammar sections, which is a shame for so highly inflected a language. I will use "West (Daphne) - Russian" for assistance.
    
Swahili00Hours spent this academic year: 7.25
Date last Studied: 15-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (2): General105, Hindi106
↑↑↑126/10/2020Started on Ling today, and printed off "Wikipedia - Swahili language" and "Wikipedia - Bantu languages" for a leisurely read.
  • Thankfully, no issues with the script as – though ‘originally’ written in the Arabic107 script (ie. when first written down) – it now uses the Latin alphabet.
  • Ling has – therefore – no writing exercises for Swahili, but also no grammar and no speaking exercises.
  • Thankfully, Swahili isn't a tonal language - unlike many other Bantu languages - so the lack of speaking exercises won't be too much of a deprivation.
  • The omission of grammar is more of a disappointment, because Swahili grammar is substantially different from the languages of Europe or Asia. I’ve purchased "Wood (Laurence) & Shadrack (Jaba Tumaini) - Learn Swahili Quickly and Easily: The theory made simple" to fill that gap, and it looks a really good read!
  • I’ve chosen Swahili as a “taster” of sub-Saharan African languages. From a quick check it’s only really the national language of Tanzania, but is widely spoken as a second or official language in much of Eastern-Central Africa.
↑↑↑1915/11/2020Palenquero
  • I found an interesting linguistic connection in an Aeon Video on Palenque108.
  • Palenque is a village in Columbia founded in the 16th century by escaped slaves - follow the link for more information - but in this context is interesting for the language, a creole called Palenquero (see Wikipedia: Palenquero), based on Spanish but with much vocabulary and a simplified grammar based on Kongo, a Bantu language like Swahili (see Wikipedia: Kongo language).
  • Following the links, it is interesting to see the similarities with Swahili.
  • See Wikipedia for the differences between Creoles (Wikipedia: Creole Language) and Pidgins (Wikipedia: Pidgin). Basically, the former are mergers of two or more "contact languages" with a worked out grammar, while the latter are more informal unions.
    
Swedish00Hours spent this academic year: 2.25
Date last Studied: 26-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (1): Danish109
↑↑↑2425/11/2020Started studying Swedish on Ling
  • I’ve no good reason for studying Swedish – like Danish110 – other than that it’s the language of a number of Scandi-noir series on TV, and it’d be nice to get an overview of how the language works, though I can’t see myself skipping the sub-titles any time soon. It’ll be interesting to see the similarities with German111 and Danish112.
  • Swedish – of course – uses a slightly augmented Latin script, though the pronunciation is not quite what one might expect, though better than Danish113. As usual, Ling provides no explanation, but I dare say it’s easy enough to pick up the rules.
  • Ling has speaking tests, but I’ve not thought of availing myself of them.
  • There are no grammar sections for Swedish on Ling, so I’ll need to rely on the rather antiquated "McClean (R.J.) - Swedish: A Grammar of the Modern Language" for enlightenment.
    
Thai00Hours by prior academic year: Total: 165.75. 2019: 105.25. 2018: 3.75. 2017: 28.5. 2016: 7.25. 2015: 19.75. 2014: 1.25
Hours spent this academic year: 2
Date last Studied: 15-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (4): Armenian114, General115, Hindi116, Hindi117
↑↑↑714/04/2020Started studying Thai on Ling.
  • An elegant and perfectly legible Thai script is used. There’s no explanation of the script, which must all be rather mysterious to those who can’t already read it given the complexity of the vowels.
  • The transliteration was fine, but unfortunately disappears never to be seen again after the ten Introductory lessons have been completed – even when reviewing these very lessons. This means you really do need to learn the rather complex script.
  • There are “speaking tests”, but I didn’t get on with these. Thai is a tonal language, and the transliteration did – I think – indicate the tones, which would have been fine if you understood the meaning of the marks, but now the transliteration has disappeared, the point is moot. Thai script only indicates the tones if they differ from what would be normal using the tone rules, which depend on the consonant class as well as much else. So, I was never sure whether I was marked down because of the tones, or some other incompetence. In any case, I’ve never been able to hear the tones in Thai as clearly as in Mandarin Chinese118.
  • There are Grammar sections in each lesson and in the Reviews, which is very helpful, though Thai grammar is very simple in comparison with that of most non-oriental languages.
  • I have a number of books and articles on Thai, but the most useful is probably "Becker (Benjawan Poomsan) - Thai for Beginners".
    
Turkish00Hours by prior academic year: Total: 42.75. 2019: 7.25. 2017: 1. 2016: 0.5. 2013: 0.25. 2012: 1.25. 2011: 1.25. 2010: 5.25. 2009: 3.25. 2008: 15.5. 2007: 7.25
Hours spent this academic year: 3.25
Date last Studied: 09-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (4): Arabic119, Armenian120, Dutch121, Hindi122
↑↑↑1022/08/2020Started studying Turkish on Ling.
  • Thankfully, modern Turkish uses a slightly modified Latin alphabet, so no transliteration or writing practice is required. The additional letter / modifications are not explained, but their sounds will become apparent from the App’s pronunciation.
  • There are speaking exercises, but I’ve not tried them yet.
  • There’s no grammar, which is disappointing as Turkish grammar – with agglutination and vowel harmony – is somewhat different from that of European languages. I intend to use "Celen-Pollard (Asuman) & Pollard (David) - Turkish (Teach Yourself Complete Courses)".
    
Urdu00Hours spent this academic year: 3.75
Date last Studied: 08-Nov-20
Resources: Books; Papers
References (2): Arabic123, Persian124
↑↑↑1404/11/2020Started studying Urdu on Ling.
  • An elegant and perfectly legible Perso-Arabic125 script is used. I’ve not yet checked whether the script – with its minor variations from the Arabic126 – is the same as that used for Persian127. As usual, there’s no explanation of the script.
  • There’s no pointing to show the short vowels. My Grammar suggests that the standard Arabic128 pointing is used, with the standard Arabic129 sounds (a, i, u), in contrast to the Persian130.
  • Transliteration is a bit odd, and inconsistent with that for Hindi131, but – at least sometimes – the “barbarous n’s” to indicate nasal vowels are actually in the script. Anyway, you can usually understand what it’s on about – though this makes some of the exercises more difficult than they need be.
  • Ling has writing exercises, which I’ve not tried yet, but – rather oddly – no speaking exercises.
  • There’s no grammar, and the only assistance I have is "Platts (John T.) - A Grammar of the Hindustani or Urdu Language", which is over 100 years old!
↑↑↑1608/11/2020
  • From the first Urdu unit on Ling, it’s interesting to see the differences – and similarities – between Urdu and Hindi132 that I was expecting, fleshed out in a bit of detail.
  • Urdu has “perfect” borrowings from English, as does Hindi133. It has horribly mangled borrowings from Arabic134, though it’s possible that these are via Persian135 which may have mangled them less.
  • There are also – presumably – borrowings from Persian136 that are not dependent on Arabic137. A case in point is “mard” – as in “ek mard”, meaning “man”. In Persian138 it is “yek mard”, which is unrelated to Arabic139 (“rajul”) but is the same as Armenian140 (“mard” or “tghamard”, “tgha” being the Armenian141 for “boy”), which might be directly dependent on Persian142, or descent from a common Indo-European ancestor. Hindi143 is “ek purush”, so it looks like the “ek” is Persian144.
  • All this will become clearer as I get further with this trio of languages.



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